Have you ever thought about what these two words really mean? They are angrily thrown around by everyone these days but do people really know what they mean. One definition of progressive, in the Merriam-Webster edition of the dictionary, says the following: “making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities.” Alternatively, the same dictionary defines conservative as “tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions.”
Lately, I have been thinking about these definitions. What I was reminded of was a former colleague who had a screen saver (remember them?) and it said, “Always move forward, never retreat.” It flashed across his screen whenever he was out of the office. What I remember about him is that he was a registered Republican, not someone usually characterized as being “progressive.” However, he was socially progressive. When it was time for our legal department to hire another attorney, he specifically asked Human Resources to send him diverse and minority candidates. The two “white men” in the department weren’t cutting it for him. It was wonderful to know he thought like that. By the time the department was closed, due to a corporate merger, he was the head of the department with a staff of 7 women, 2 of them lesbians, and one African-American. How’s that for diversity!
The reason I have been thinking of these terms is because I think most of us want to move forward in life. Why do we want to maintain the same conditions and institutions? Just as we want better and newer technology, doesn’t everyone really want to move forward and not retreat?